Museums: Hershey School ‘limbo’ wagon slated for restoration

One of the Hershey School's 'limbo wagons' is ready for restoration | AACA Museum photo
One of the Hershey School’s ‘limbo wagons’ is ready for restoration | AACA Museum photo

It was in 1959, during the 50th anniversary of the school and home for orphaned boys founded by Milton S. and Catherine Hershey, that the decision was made to provide a more home-style environment. Part of that change included purchasing a fleet of station wagons.

To replace the more formal school buses that had been used for student travel between housing units and the school, the school purchased a fleet of 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne wagons. Those wagons went to Stageway, a coachbuilder in Cincinnati, for conversion to hold a driver and as many as 13 students at a time. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Bellissima! at the Frist and the Lane museums

B.A.T. cars greet visitors as they arrive in the main gallery of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts | Larry Edsall photos
B.A.T. cars greet visitors as they arrive in the main gallery of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts | Larry Edsall photos

Not only are their respective displays impressive, but so is the cooperative effort between two Nashville museums.

“Bellissima! The Italian Automotive Renaissance, 1945-1975” is the title of the exhibit of several 10s of millions of dollars-worth of automotive overachievement on display through October 9 at The First Center for the Visual Arts, the big downtown art museum in the Music City. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Basement tour at the Lane Motor Museum

Lame Motor Museum's basement is packed with cars | Larry Edsall photos
Lame Motor Museum’s basement is packed with cars | Larry Edsall photos

The Petersen and the museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are famous for their basement troves where cars are kept while they await their turn on the show floors above. Often, however, the wait can take years, sometimes many, many years.

In the meantime, the cars are hidden away from the public except for those who pay for the Petersen’s basement tour or those who know someone at the Speedway who can offer a personal peek.

The basement at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville may not be quite as well-known, but it is amazing nonetheless — if you are fortunate enough to visit the museum on a day when basement tours are offered. With rare exceptions, tour days are not regularly scheduled but are offered on weekends “based on staff availability,” as the museum’s flier puts it. Continue reading

Lane Motor Museum cars can be ‘bought’ for rally

1934 McQuay Norris Streamliner with trailer, part of the Lane collection | Steve Purdy
1934 McQuay Norris Streamliner with trailer, part of the Lane museum’s unique collection | Steve Purdy

If ever any proof was needed that the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville is a unique establishment, all doubts were dispelled when the restoration experts built an exact copy of the original 1933 Dymaxion car, possibly the oddest car ever created, then drove it to Amelia Island, Florida, for the recent concours d’elegance. Continue reading

Lane Motor Museum re-creates visionary Dymaxion Car, will debut at Amelia Island Concours

 A replica of Buckminster Fuller’s unique vehicle was built by Lane museum staff | Lane Motor Museum
A replica of Buckminster Fuller’s unique vehicle was built by Lane museum staff | Lane Motor Museum

When Buckminster Fuller, one of the most creative and visionary minds of the 20th Century, directed his vast intellect toward the design of an automobile, the result was an utterly unique expression of mobility the likes of which the world had not seen before, or since.

The futuristic Dymaxion Car that appeared in 1933 defied all notions of convention or even normalcy. It was distinctively shaped like a raindrop for maximum aerodynamics at a time when boxy cars with upright windshields, flared fenders and running boards were the standard. The cantilevered chassis carried two fixed wheels in front and one in the back that steered like the tiller of a boat.

Fuller shows Dymaxion Car at 1933 Chicago World’s Fair | Buckminster Fuller Institute
Dymaxion Car at 1933 Chicago World’s Fair | Buckminster Fuller Institute

Although the Ford V8 engine was mounted in the rear, the car had front-wheel drive. The steering position was placed ahead of the front wheels, with the driver’s inputs directed back to the single rear wheel. The car could pull a U turn in the smallest of confines.

How odd the Dymaxion Car must have seemed to people back then, and how odd it still seems today. But it was a paragon of efficiency: The car could carry 11 people, and it could achieve 30 miles per gallon and a top speed of 90 miles per hour.

And Fuller’s unique car still fascinates. The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville announced Tuesday that after eight years of effort, the museum’s restorers and technicians had succeeded in creating a replica of the first Dymaxion Car, which will be put on display starting Thursday.

Schematic drawings of Dymaxion Car | Buckminster Fuller Institute
Schematic drawings of Dymaxion Car | Buckminster Fuller Institute

Fuller succeeded in building three prototypes of the Dymaxion Car, just one of which survives today at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.

“The Dymaxion just makes sense for us to have at the (Lane Motor Museum),” said Jeff Lane, director of the museum that uses the slogan, “Unique Cars from A to Z.”

“The design is well ahead of its time and its looks definitely fit the uniquely different philosophy we build our collection around,” Lane said.  “After doing lots of research, we decided that Dymaxion #1 was the best fit for the museum, and now it’s here.”

In honor of Fuller’s dynamic contribution to automotive history, Jeff Lane will drive the Dymaxion Car replica from the museum in Nashville to northern Florida to make its debut March 15 at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

Fuller used the invented word “dymaxion” for a number of projects to describe his design philosophy of “doing more with less.” The futurist is best remembered outside of scientific circles for his groundbreaking geodesic dome that became an architectural staple.

Eye Candy: Lane Motor Museum

Photos by Steve Purdy

The Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee is one of our favorite car museums because it is one of the most unusual. Here you will see no Packards or Deusenbergs or Stutz. Rather you’ll see Citroen, Messerschmidt, Tatra, Skoda, Helecron and dozens of other makes of which even dedicated car aficionados may not be familiar.

Jeff Lane presides over a collection of about 400 cars, bicycles, motorcycles and other vehicles that defy categorization. About 150 of those are on display and well annotated in the large, well-lit main space of a retired bread factory on Murfreesboro Pike, right near the intersection of I-24 and I-40.

Another 250 are packed in the lower storage area.

Both floors have workspaces and a well-stocked library provides resource material for the study of all these treasures.

What ties this collection of interesting odd-balls together is out-of-the-box design and engineering that attempt to solve a variety of transportation challenges, including propulsion systems, economics, structural configurations, fuel systems and an array of often indefinable elements.

This collection celebrates those who attempted creative solutions. Some did not work so well, but that does not make them any less collectable or less worthy of preservation in Lane’s view.

This is a car museum we can recommend without hesitation. It is closed each Tuesday and Wednesday, but is open every other day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special arrangements must be made to see the cars in storage on the lower level,but the main collection will soak up your day.

Get the details at the museum’s website.